WASHINGTON – The coronavirus has forced the cancellation of many public gatherings this year, but Washington was able to hold its 31st annual craft fair Saturday in Central Park.
The event was pushed back an hour due to early morning rain in the forecast, and luckily the rainclouds stayed away the rest of the day. The vendors were generally pleased with the attendance. Some said that they were just happy to attend a craft fair at all.
Bob and Susie Kling drove from Indianola that morning to set up a booth to sell Bob’s paintings and pottery. Bob said he planned to attend 15 craft fairs in 2020, but so far all but two have been canceled.
Bob said sales went well Saturday. He mentioned that he had come to the craft show a few years ago, liked it, and decided to come back. His booth included paintings of flowers and pollinating insects.
He explained that the reason his recent paintings were on flowers was that he hasn’t been able to get models since returning from Mexico on March 17, when the pandemic hit. He went through photos he’d taken of his garden last year, and they inspired him to create the paintings he had for sale at the craft fair.
Cheryl Richardson of rural Washington was there with her business Cheryl’s Ice Cream Shack, selling ice cream, smoothies, walking tacos and more. She said the crowd was steady but down compared to last year. She said it didn’t help her ice cream sales that it was a cool day, in the upper 60s, and that the threat of rain and the pandemic kept more people from coming.
Jim Lock of West Liberty set up a booth to sell his homemade plaques and ornaments. Lock calls his business “Grampy’s Designs,” and he makes nearly everything from recycled lumber or old DVDs. For instance, he was selling DVDs cut into the shape of dogs and cats.
Lock said Saturday was the first time he’s sold at Washington’s craft fair. He visited the fair last year, and got to talking with the Lugo family who run Lugo’s Gourmet Popcorn, another West Liberty-based business that frequently sells in Washington. The Lugos encouraged him to bring his wares to Washington, so he did.
Lock said his sales went well. He had a busy morning, but it slowed down in the afternoon. He said he plans to come back for next year’s craft fair.
Stephanie Sanders of Pupper Mom Apparel was there selling T-shirts to support Cedar Valley Pit Bull Rescue, based in Waterloo. Sanders said she adopted a second dog a couple of years ago, and realized she wanted to do even more for her local shelter. She has a background in graphic design, so she put those skills to use designing and selling T-shirts, the proceeds from which go to the shelter.
Sanders said she was pleased with her sales Saturday, which numbered almost 20 T-shirts.
“I’ll definitely do this again next year,” she said. “And Washington has such a beautiful square.”
Sanders said she’s set up her booth at other events before, but this was her first time selling in Washington. She said she was pleased with the crowd at the event.
“We have seen a consistent flow of people all day,” she said. “There has never been a dead spot, no lull.”
Janelle Jacobi of Coralville and Jim Escher of Richmond attended the fair to help their friend Laurie Calkins, who was there selling barn board signs, and just to experience the sights and sounds of a festive gathering.
“This is the second year we’ve come, and we just like to do some sight-seeing and meet people we know,” said Jacobi, who added that her mother had a booth selling flower arrangements and paintings.
Jacobi said she made a few purchases at the fair, and said it was nice to get out of the house for a change.
Zoey Stotter and Sean Steepleton, both from Washington, were a couple of youngsters who got their faces painted at one of the booths at the fair. Stotter said the highlight for her at the fair was eating ice cream from Cheryl’s Ice Cream Shack. Steepleton agreed that the food was his favorite part of the fair, too.